Day 1-3 of The Big Chill,
London to Paris:
We have a brief meet up with our Contiki Crew who we will be spending the next 46 amazing days together with and then get to know each other over a beer or 10. We were each given a colour sticker and told “Go To The Bar”. We found all our fellow “yellows” and got to chatting.
We woke early and met down at the Contiki “Coaches” do not call them busses, you have been warned…….. Day one takes us from London to Paris. We all jump on the coach and in play the “Get to know you games” A handy way to pass the time while we were stuck in the London Traffic. We soon realised that we had a massively diverse group of travellers from all over the world and all walks of life and an amazing Contiki Staff, I like to take this opportunity to make a shout out to our brilliant Tour Manager, Nathan, our outrageously skilled “Coach” driver Rado and the super star cook Vee. You guys made this tour.
Our first stop was the English Channel. We jump on a ferry and cross over to France. As we are leaving Dover Port we get to see the “White Cliffs of Dover”, pretty awesome way to sail off into the distance. We grab some grub, they take either Euro’s or pounds and a beer and start chatting away.
When we land in France we drive past Calais, World War 1 battlefields in the Valley of the Somme into Paris and set up camp. I constantly wondered if the “Stereotypical” French idea was real. This was quickly proven correct. I had my first glimpse of a Beret wearing, black and white stripped donned man riding a bike with a large French Stick hanging out of his bag. Needless to say i was already satisfied with France. That night we ventured into town, watched all the bright lights, The Eiffel Tower, drove up the Champs-Élysées and did bog laps around the Arc de Triomphe. It would of been a site to see, this huge orange Contiki bus going around and around the Arc de Triomphe so fast that bags were falling out the over head compartment, we then went out for some dinner then hit the clubs.We were introduced to a song which pretty much turned into “The Tour Song” Excuse my language “Niggerz in Paris” By Jay-Z and Kayne West. Through out the tour when ever this song was played the entire crew “Lost Their Shit” and lifted the night to an entirely new level.Here is a link to the Epic song that stretched the entire way from Paris to Amsterdam. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubRUS8GupLUThe first night on tour lived up to the hype. It was HUGE!!! We were drinking straight from flavoured Vodka Bottles whilst dancing on tables, at one stage I did “The Worm” on said tables. This turned into “My Move” for the rest of the tour. After we all made it back to camp we realised that we were one guy short. No idea where he was, could not get hold of him and no had heard from him. It was not until the next day that he surfaced at our meeting spot, The Arc de Triomphe, still in his clothes from the night before. Turns out he got mugged, lost everything and couldn’t remember where we were staying, he ended up sleeping on a park bench.
We had a free day in Paris so we made the most of it. We wondered up to have a real close look at the Eiffel Tower, explored the endless galleries at the Louvre and got as close as we could to the Mona Lisa. Which is the tiny painting in a huge room with 100’s of people all trying to get a glimpse a take a snap. One thing really annoyed me in the “Mona Lisa” room was there, was a big sign saying “No Flash” yet no one seemed to take any noticed and flashed away. Whilst taking the “I’ve been there” photo we had our first experience of the dodgy going on’s of the many people who will try and scam tourist all over Europe. This guy comes over to us saying “Free Eithiopia” He did not look legit and had this real suss looking paper for us to sign and asked for a donation. Turns out that these guys are everywhere and it is a scam. So please do not get caught out.
We wondered up and the down the glitzy Champs-Élysées, in and out of glamorous shops. I had a sneak peak in the Toyota shop and had a close look at the amazing Toyota Hybrid Concept supercar. We even
had the French version of Macdonalds. Now I know this is not very backpacker style but we had just come from Egypt and had a serious case of, what can best be described as, “Egyptian Belly” and just needed some western food. I had it once and never again. It is just like Macdonalds back home but more expensive and just a greasy.
We made the trip out to France’s most well-known château, Versailles, which was once home to “The Sun King” Louis XIV, and a hot spot of the French Revolution. We had to fight our way through the hords of crowds all fighting to get into the château. There were tour buses everywhere and just as many scammers here as there were at Louvre. There were also heaps of people illegally trying to sell you souvenirs. It is rather amusing when the police come out, you should see these guys scatter like rats and just disappear, only to return as soon as the police have left.
We meet up with the rest of the crew and got re-united with the bloke who got lost the previous night. We made our way over to this tiny little restaurant and had my first taste of escargot. I must admit, escargot is actually rather tasty. We were treated to a Cabaret show complete with Can-Can girls and plenty of French Champagne. Which I must say taste much better in France.
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