On Tuesday 10th I travelled across the country to be able to start my Contiki tour bright and early the next day. There was a moment of excitement as I heard Australian accents at the LA airport. I was informed by these Australians however, that I was losing my accent and sounded kinda American. I wasn’t impressed!
Early Wednesday 11th our group of 47, plus our tour guide and driver met in the lobby of a hotel. Our group consisted of A LOT of Aussies, some Kiwi’s and a few people from South Africa, Canada, Brazil and Japan. I was shocked to hear all the Australian accents, which I could suddenly recognize so clearly! It felt nice to hear it again and arguments about what to call thongs/jandles/flip flops ensured all week.
On Wednesday we drove straight out of LA and to San Diego. We spent the morning at Cororado and started to meet people on the bus through speed dating. Here we went shopping and also speed boating. The speed boating was so much fun, and me and Bec got soaked! We saw some seals (they really smell!) and nearly got run over by a ferry. That night we had a Mexican feast in Old Town and went out for a few drinks and a lot of dancing.
On Thursday we got to choose between spending the day at the San Diego Zoo or Sea World. I chose Sea World, which had a good combination of animals and rides. We particularly loved seeing the dolphins being trained, the killer whale show and the flamingoes! We spent the afternoon at Mission Beach, but it was too cold to swim, so Nozi and myself just ate giant ice-creams and went shopping instead.
On Friday we headed to Phoenix. After this fairly long drive, we headed off to the basketball – Phoenix Suns vs. Atlanta Hawks. We were a bit late in getting there and the first time-out that we experienced had a proposal on center court! Safe to say, it was so exciting and dare I say, American, but was also awesome to watch. We had “All you can eat” so we were still loving our nose bleed seats!
On Saturday morning I got up very very early and went hot air ballooning for the first time with a small group. I had no idea what to expect or if I would even enjoy it, but it ended up being one
of my favourite things I did all week! It was very smooth and I felt very safe the whole time. The views of the desert of Phoenix was incredible and just so different! After our ride, we got given a very cute breakfast, in the middle of a paddock (there were some cows close by) before meeting the bus to head to the Grand Canyon.
We were able to stay in the Grand Canyon National Park which was vry cool and convenient. The only downside was the lack of phone reception and tha
t to use the free Wi-Fi we had to sit in the cafeteria. We spent our first night at the Grand Canyon in the cafeteria playing board games.
The next morning, I chose the optional of going for a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. This
45 minute flight was awesome! When looking at the Grand Canyon from the edge, it looks hazy and you’re just waiting for the backdrop to fall. But from the helicopter it was amazing. We only saw a small part of it but it was still magnificent and amazing. I had to keep telling myself to stop taking photos (luckily I had the window seat!) and to just look at the view. I also decided that helicopter is another great way to travel!
That afternoon I met some other girls I had become friends with and we did a 12km hike around the ridge of the north side of the Grand Canyon. This was the most (*read only*) exercise that I had done since leaving Uni so it was a bit of a challenge. But we had a nice afternoon and topped it off with a dinner at the ‘fancy’ restaurant (as apposed to the cafeteria).
The next day we left early from the Grand Canyon to go to Las Vegas. I was a bit unsure about how much I would enjoy Las Vegas but it ended up being a great way to finish my trip. On the first day wenight we were there we went out for a dinner with the group to an Italian restaurant where we were loving ‘Contiki Punch’. We then had a tour of the strip, a photo at the ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign and a surprise wedding with Elvis! We then went out to a club that was so impressive – it was huge, had a pool, the music was really good until about 1am etc. etc.
The next day we had a free day in Vegas to explore. This also happened to be St. Patricks Day! We shopped, went to all the places we had heard of and seen in movies (we had watched The Hangover in preparation on the bus so we all wanted to see Caesars). Me and Maria also went on the roller-coaster at New York New York, which was one of the scariest roller-coasters I have ever been on! That night I went to the the Cirque Du Soleil show, Zarkana, that was showing at Aria. It was awesome, especially the sets and music. I remember watchig Cirque Du Soleil on TV with Dad when I was much younger so this was a pretty cool thing to see in real like. From the Aria we got a limo ride, with champagne of course, which took us to the Palms nigtclub. This club was on the 23rd floor and the view was amazing! I had a great night and by the time I woke up the next morning the rest of the tour had already left for Lake Tahoe. I had a day of travelling back to Uni (I got back to Wise at 2am) feeling not so crash hot.
My week on tour felt like it had gone so fast but that I had done so much. Thanks to everyone on my trip, as well as our guide Kiron and driver Adrian for a great time. And Madison and Sarah for coming to get me from the airport so late!
The week just kept getting better, when I returned to my dorm room my mystery Big Sister had left me presents. Little did I know that my Big was the girl who had graciously picked me up from the airport at midnight! I finally found out on Monday that Madison was my Big and I’ve been loving getting to know all the girls in my family line this week.
I’m off to New York tomorrow for a long weekend with my friend from home! So another long blog is sure to be coming next week!