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Planning and Superstition

In August 2015, it was like Christmas! The Summer 2016 flyer came out and I drooled over every page. Vacation planning is not something I do a lot of, it is more of a familiarization of options. As I reviewed my options, let’s face it, maximizing the number of new countries was the main option.

There resulted in one tour that became the only one that worked for dates to take my mother to Europe, and her need to user the Labour Day weekend to make it work, and the need to still hit Oktoberfest with Tony. That tour was the Trail to Rome starting September 9, 2016. It would leave London, then go to in order; Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Krakow, Budapest, Ljubljana, Venice, and Rome. This was it or bust!I have always booked these trips through the tour group directly, as it was just easier. Since the past trips, I took some cruises and booked them through a particular travel agent. As a few weeks passed, the trip date after the one I wanted went completely sold out and my trip was limited availability now. So I went online and booked the trip directly with Contiki. Since the rest of the trip dependent on others, I didn’t get the insurance (later in the story this was a very wise decision), or airfare.

Around the end of the year, some things came up and my mother was going to have to cancel. Then the trip sold out and Tony was only going to do the end week. Come April I needed to buy my airfare and the trip was not firmed up but I knew I was going to take book-end weeks before and after the trip so I planned to fly to London (so I could store my big bag and travel light), then after the trip give half a week to plan later and then fly Rome to Munich for Oktoberfest, spend 3 nights there, and fly home from there.

Now I researched my flights and tweeted the flights to perfection and timings to not be too early, too late, or wait times too long or too short. I also planned to try out Lufthansa to come home. Since this was 3 segments and multi-airline, I determined a travel agent would be my best bet, and I needed to get travel insurance still.

Now since I booked my trip my regular agent didn’t seem pleased that I booked the package directly with Contiki. In addition, I am quite superstitious about things and the two cruises I booked through her using different airlines, both had my luggage delayed. I, therefore, decided to use a different location of the same company to book the flights. I showed up with a post-it note that had dates, flight codes, and airport codes that would confuse most people as a pile of gibberish, but to her, it made perfect sense and I had tickets in no time.

I also bought travel cancellation insurance through her. I thought the price was a little high and later found out it was the plus plan, and that was why. By the time I found that out it was too late to do anything about it.

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It’s Showtime!

Show Poster

Now to continue the story. The biggest point of fear is the moment before doing something. However, I have at this point completely learned my part and it is showtime for the final full rehearsal and there are a limited number of media and a few other people in the audience. It makes this effectively the first show. I’m standing behind the curtain waiting for my cue, which was in the second part of the first act, and am trembling because although I’m not on stage yet, I have no way to escape out of doing this. After two months of faking it, pretending to be an actor, I step out on stage. I don’t remember much of that show I was in character and pulled it off.

The next day, the first day of paying guests, I trip on my way to work, rip open my knee and elbow, but the most tragic event happened. My coffee cup exploded all over the sidewalk and I lost it. A world without coffee is not a great world. That night I was faking it again and really was focused and didn’t even notice the audience. Each night after the show I got to meet some of the audience. The reason why the story started here was that after the Friday show, I invited my mother to travel with me to see London and Paris on the fateful trip when the story gets interesting.

I did absolutely love the acting and had auditioned again the next year but have never gotten a chance to do it again yet hopefully as I heal, I will get a part in the future. The following April I did perform with my friend Tony in a Shakespeare open mic a bit from Coriolanus. Unfortunately, he messed up his line. (sarcastic supportive emoji 🙄)

It was also at this point that I convinced myself that it was time for Contiki trip number 4. My friend Tony also wanted to join me for the Contiki and to do a post-tour trip to visit Pompeii and Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. (Do I even need to state it is in Germany. Doesn’t everyone know Munich is in Germany?)

Later, my mother sent me a list of things she would find interesting like the Tower of London, the English Moores, Normandy, and where in Paris that Princess Diana was killed. (Moan, not Paris again…)

So the plan is to bring my mother for a few days, send her home. Meet Tony and then go on Contiki, then a post week of exploration.

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Let the saga begin…

Over the past few years, I have not posted as much lately here. Let’s face it FaceBook is where it is at these days to share things. But the main reason has been that I had been in a slump where almost nothing felt interesting to me let alone share.

Back in 2009 when I left university for the last time and decided to leave university and start travelling, I was really in a search to try and find meaning. Then in 2010 when I first set foot on British soil and took my first Contiki it was amazing. Then came 2011 and I tried to duplicate the experience and it was more disappointing and less amazing (just a little). Then when my Great Aunt passed away in 2012, I tried again to travel Europe and it just wasn’t quite the same as that first time either. I wasn’t having any luck at finding meaning in anything, or a relationship.

Then in 2014, I took a cruise and it was impressive. So, I did it again in 2015 and it was very much less so than the first time although it was still special like each of the trips before by the people I meet on the journey.

Although this has now changed and I’m not sure where this will end or how long it will take to catch up to no but boy do I have a story to share, and I will start to post it here.

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IG: Europe Trip 2016

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Contiki’s Virtual Travel

There are somethings in life that VR will just not replace. One such thing is the experience of a Contiki tour. Or can it? I just read an article on Travel Week where with $149 for 3 hours you can experience a 3D VR experience of world wonders like Oktoberfest in Germany.

I’m sorry but there is nothing close to Oktoberfest in Germany then…

Oktoberfest in Munich
Oktoberfest in Munich

Not Even…

Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo
Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo

I have been on 3 and soon to be 4 Contiki Europe trips, and the experiences you get from days with people from all over the globe just cannot be virtually obtained. Especially the smells of cities like London, Paris, Rome, Venice are also part of the experience. Travelling is to me about the experience more so then just seeing the sites.

Check it out here https://www.contiki.com/virtually-unlimited

Note: I wrote this post before visiting the actual Contiki site about this.

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IG: Sun Trip 2014/2015

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Voyage to the Caribbean – Part 3 (2 Days, 1.5 Islands, 0 Plans, 0 Disappointments)

So as we left off last time I had finely made it to the ship with my luggage and we were on our way.

I spent the first night expiring the ship and visiting every nook and cranny that I could. It was a very interesting group of people who I was seated with in the dining room. Then I went to the Ivan Hoe Theatre for the welcome show which was amazing and caught the end of the sail away party on the Lido deck.

On the second day it was a stop in St. Thomas on the US Virgin Islands. Let’s just say that I enjoyed myself greatly the previous night and on my list was to get some Advil as I had not packed any. I started wandering around the cruise terminal area and did not find anything overly interesting so I started to walk further down the street until I seen the sign for a K-Mart. It must have been 20 years since I last seen one of those places.

I proceeded to the K-Mart and it was a 2 story shop and was air-conditioned so I browsed every isle for about a half and hour and bought 1.5L bottle of water and a bottle of Advil. I then decided to walk back to the ship and then do nothing and enjoy the sun as the Advil kicked in.

On the way back to the ship I ran into a man offering a taxi tour of the island. Guaranteeing it was one of the best island tours. He asked where I was from an after telling him I was from Canada he pointed to the other people he had crowded up were also from Canada. After some hesitation I agree to take the tour. We get into the van and start driving around as he points out things of interest along the way. He was very knowledgeable and very funny and kept everyone laughing most of the time.

After we left town we went to the first stop where we would get out to take pictures. There was a man with an ass named Monica Lewinsky at this stop. Now I knew about thinks like this from the gladiators in Roma where they convince you to have a picture taken for money and for US$2 I get my picture taken with the ass. Then the tour guide offers to take group pictures for everyone, and then we move on.

The next stop was just up the hill a little further. It was the lookout at Drake’s Seat. Once again there was a guy with another ass named Lady Gaga. One ass pic was enough. The view of Mohones Bay was amazing from there. The next stop was at Coki Beach which was some of the clearest water I have ever seen. Then the to our ended and I went back to the ship.

I went to have some lunch and then played some trivia before moving on and exploring more of the ship, and trying out the pools. It was about departure time that we heard the alarm and they announced staff to staging areas and the doors to my hallway were closed. There turned out being a fire on the port side of the aft section on Deck 8 (or Verandah deck). That was when the rumors started. Everyone had their own story of what they heard happened. It was not until I was waiting in line for dinner from people who were in the next room over from the fire the I got the real story.

It turned out that there was an electrical fault with the lamp in the room. At dinner I met most of my dinner group that I would be dining with for the rest of the trip. It was a very big group everyone was a solo traveler just like I was. This is probably one of my best tips of advice for somebody traveling solo is to take the assigned dining option and not a flex dining option. This way you have somebody to talk to about your day and somebody to listen to about their day.

Next day was very interesting. It was our only day at sea on this voyage. I went to art shows and seminars and trivia sessions but then just spent a chunk of the day relaxing on the Lido deck. It was shortly after lunch when we had learned that there was a medical emergency onboard. The captain said that she would have to divert to Martinique. He assured us that we would still get to Barbados on time the next day.

It was very fortunate that we detoured as we were sailing away there was the most amazing rainbow I have ever seen. Then there was a meet the captain and crew formal event as this was our first formal night on the ship. I got interviewed on the ships TV station by the assistant cruise director and after that all the old women on the ship were saying “Were you the guy on the TV?”