So before I begin I guess now is a good time to tell you about the Contiki Tour. I'm doing the European Adventurer which is a 37 day "concept" tour which means that it's not camping, but pretty close since it's a lot of hostels and share cabins. Although there is a few hotels too :) As I am writing this I'm sitting in a tin cabin near Venice and it's hot and there's plenty of mosquitoes, and I'm drinking a warm Danish beer. But life couldn't be better!
So our tour group has 34 people on it (plus the tour manager and coach driver). This is made up of half a dozen Kiwis, a South African, a couple of Canadians, a Japanese girl, a Brit girl, an American girl and the rest are all Aussies! The average age is about 25 by my guess so it's an older bunch compared to some of the other tours. They seem to be all 18 - 20, and do insane stuff that gets them in trouble all the time. Apparently our group is quite small, most groups are about 45 people. But all the Contiki staff say that our tour is the best tour that Contiki offers.
We have a great driver who is from Portugal. He can speak just about every language in Europe and is a ton of laughs. Everyone calls him Meow Meow which is a long funny story of how he got that nick name. Our tour manager is Lindsay who is a 24 year old South African. She's pretty cool and also a ton of laughs.
So anyway, after departing Paris we drove down to Lyon and then into the Boujolais area which is a relatively famous wine area. There is a mansion there owned by Contiki where up to 150 people can stay at one time. And for the two nights we were there, it was a full house. All there is to do there is drink wine and chill. Oh and at night they open the basement which is like a mini disco which is sound proofed so everyone goes crazy. We had two nights there. Good times! I didn't take any pictures because there wasn't really much to take, sorry!
After the Chateau we had a long drive down to Barcelona, Spain. By the way, every time we travel we drive for pretty much the entire day. Long days are from about 8am to 7pm, short ones from 9am to 5pm. All the drives are pretty scenic though, and if there's any cool things to see on the way we stop for them. For example on the way to Spain we stopped at the second biggest aquaduct in the world, built by the Romans and well maintained. It's even on the 5 Euro note.
In Barcelona we were staying at a relatively new hostel near the airport. Pretty standard place, but it was in a dodgy area. Brett and I walked to the store to grab some beer, and we chose to go after dark. Pretty bad idea, there were the local hombres cruizing around in their souped up gangster cars. Luckily they didn't take notice of us.
The first night of Barcelona we didn't do anything. The next day we hit the city, saw the 1992 Olympic stadium, went to a restaurant and ate tapas and drank sangria (fruit juice with wine), and then went to the beach which was really nice. Now let me tell you about the sun here. It doesn't burn you! Well, not really compared to Australia. I put a light coating of suncream on my face and arms, and didnt bother with my legs. I sat on the beach for two hours in the sun drinking beer, and thought my legs were going to be cooked as they would after like 20 minutes of Australian sun. But no! Just a light tanning. That said, I do recommend wearing sun cream, but it's amazing the difference in heat and intensity of the sun. It was pretty cool that there were vendors walking around on the beach selling drinks and beer, and also offering hashish (we didn't buy any don't worry).
That night we ate more tapas and then went to a bar that had a deal with Contiki, cheap drinks! So we went pretty crazy and partied all night. I also met some French people who taught me an interesting drinking game. When it was home time we caught a nice cheap cab back and went to bed knowing we were going to be waking up at 7.30am for the trip back into France, going to Nice on the French Riviera.