Running late for a very important date is never a good thing in a girl's scheduled.The date i was running late for? Contiki check-in.
Now for those who have been hiding under your beds this last decade Contiki is a tour company. Similar to the likes of Topdeck and BusABout. An organised chaotic adventure for those 18-35 operating all over the globe. A great way to get a taste of counties, make lasting friendships and drink until your liver disowns you.
Now when you compare Russell Square tube station with the myriad of others dotted around London its recognised as a rather small station. No length after length of escalators carrying you deeper into London'd underground. Just one, albeit large, elevator. Which descends down for who knows how long.
Standing at the back of a very claustrophobic crowd during peak hour with five minutes to spare before your sister goes spare can make a girl desperate. I'll testify to that.
It was a stupidly stressful moment as i felt myself start to panic at the thought of missing check-in. Worrying about the horrific consequences as if i was still in school late for a class. People were unreasonably impatient not allowing me to impatiently squeeze past them towards the elevator.
Out the corner of my eye i saw the "emergency only stairs" that i had overlooked previous trips. I'm not one to break the rules.
Emergency only is emergency only, however, through my own reasoning my situation could be construed as an emergency. If you squint.
It was decided.
The moment i (of course) saw somebody else run up past that stop sign i would follow...so i didn't look like total asshole.
I wasn't even a quarter of the way up that spiral emergency exit of doom when i began to regret my decision. Too late to turn back i continued up that never ending circle. Passing passengers that had the much easier job of descending the countless steps.
Sweating, out of breath, heart pounding i finally heaved my legs up the last step. I then proceeded to run the rest of the way back to the hotel.
The London base for Contiki; the Royal National Hotel.
There's nothing particularly 'Royal' about the hotel but it's cheap, relatively clean and where the Contiki tours start and finishes all it's tours.
Sitting in that big room, only knowing one other person, my sister, was rather nerve wracking. Unnecessarily so. We received all the information we required. when to meet the next morning, who our tour manager and driver were and a quick passport check-in. After i ran to the bag storage room to hastily get my passport and Contiki pack.
With multiple tours piled into the same room it was difficult to tell who would be on the same tour. You found yourself staring at an attractive guy thinking "European Vista" "Be on European Vista". Jedi mind tricks at their best.
The next morning we had to be up before the sun. Though in a British winter that wasn't terribly hard to do.
In the courtyard by seven, bags in tow and standing in our designated corner with similarly nervously excited travelers. Waiting for the coach to pull up. It's always tentative. conversations with strangers. But after about ten minutes of solid small talk it can seem as if you've known them for an age.
Seeing that purple coach pull in with 'Contiki' splashed across the side was an intensely thrilling moment of my life.
Half an hour and bags under the coach later and we were on our way to see the White Cliffs of Dover with out very own eyes.
|The White Cliffs of Dover|