Back into France my Contiki family and i go.
When you're on a Contiki tour the group of people you are travelling with become close very quickly. Bonding tends to start on about the second long coach trip. Little friendship groups form and like High School, everyone tends to break off into groups and exclude that one creepy man that doesn't quite know his boundaries. While getting to know everyone on the tour is your best option, forming a small group of people that you just click with is kind of amazing.
Especially when you have a free day to go exploring the city of Nice, France. It can be difficult to coordinate with everyone when you are staying in a hotel room with one other person and there is no specific 'wake up' times that dictates the other 99% of the tour. Like me you might end up rising super early to take in the day and realise you have no idea when anyone else will get up or if they are already out and about. So you head off with a lovely but awkward Asian boy on a mission to find the Castle Hill and set an uncomfortable 'getting to know one another' conversation while taking in the magnificent seaside town you have the privilege of travelling to.
Castle Hill was not easy to fine, even though it was right beside us the entire time. On one side of the hill is a never ending zigg-zagging trail of stairs buried along the face, hidden within the foliage and on the other...an elevator. A self automated, no pushing of any buttons, elevator. Of course we took the never ending stairs.
The pay off was worth it though. We got a spectacular view and worked off last nights alcohol. While i was completely expecting an actual castle all we found were castle runes. We probably should have read the brochure.
There is also a breathtaking waterfall that appears more transcendent when looking at it from the streets below.
It was around this time that i lost my exploration partner. I still have no idea how. I turn around and poof! i was by myself. But this tale is not a sad one because not five minutes later i heard a slightly american "CONTIKI"! being shouted at my back. I had found a new friend. A friend that hadn't learnt my name yet.
Across Europe during the festive season of Christmas you are able to find Christmas markets. Everywhere. And it's magnificent.
I love Christmas and finally having the opportunity to have another, my second, 'white Christmas' was a dream come true, But what made it even better was the markets. Rows and rows of winter cabin style booths, red and green smothering every inch. It was like heaven, if heaven was Christmas all day everyday to the end of eternity.
That night in true Contiki style we got ready for a big night out, walked and drank our way through bottles of wine before we danced on tabletops in an 'Australian' style bar until the wee hours. And as our tour manager instructed, turned left at the giant Christmas bauble to find your drunken way back to the hotel...if you can find the giant bauble that is.