Contiki 2014 – Grand Northern USA

For a while, I’ve wanted to write about my contiki in 2014.

I hadn’t started my blog yet when I traveled then but I definitely want to do a review on the tour. So I what I think I’ll do, is an over all overview of the contiki, then another blog of each of the place we stopped in at!

The tour started on a rainy morning in downtown New York at the Doubltree By Hilton, Chelsea. The night before, most of us met in the lobby for a quick meet and greet and exchange paperwork of insurance and passports with our contiki manager Craig, a typical American with a very strong southern accent, which threw me at first. Christ, what am I doing? Why on earth did I book this trip, everyone is terrifying me!

My anxiety of new people went into overdrive and I was stuck in the middle of a tiny cramped lobby with 30 or so other people introducing themselves to everyone while I managed to back my way out of the group after I had given my copies of the paper work and nudged towards the elevator and back to my room to try to get a good nights sleep after an extensive day of trying to get over my jet lag and the fact that I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life by coming overseas.

I missed home, my family and my friends already and I had only been out of the country for no more than 48 hours and I still had 30 something days to go!

Mel, pull yourself together, you are going to enjoy this trip no matter what!

The next day we all jumped in the bus and spent the next few hours playing ‘get to know you’ games before reaching our first destination, Boston. We did the touristy stuff in Boston for a couple of days then headed up on the bus to Canada!

We explored in Quebec City, Montreal and of course Toronto where we hit up way too many bars and drank way too much vodka to have our last trip in Canada at the beautiful Niagara Falls.

Before we crossed the border back into the States, we stopped in at the duty free store to stock up for the rest of the trip with more alcoholic goodies.

Next stop, Cleveland Ohio! We only spent one afternoon/night here. We ventured through the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame then spent the night ten pin bowling.

Over the coming days we stopped in at Chicago Illinois, Madison Wisconsin, Sioux Falls South Dakota, the incredible Badlands’ National Park, the tiny historic town of Walldrug and Mt. Rushmore. I got to go to my first baseball game and check in at the Spam Factory (needless to say, like most days we were hung over and the spam tastings were an interesting experience to say the least).

One place I remember fondly is Keystone, a town next to Mt. Rushmore that   I loved the little old town and I was caught it wanderlust of it all. A few of us spent an evening in the most amazing bar I have ever seen.

It was a cross between an old wooden small town bar, and a thrift shop. Yeah I’m serious, and I’ll go into more detail about it in my other blog and review about each town.

The next day would have been my favorite part of the bus trip by far!

We drove from Keystone through to the Wyoming Mountain Ranges, where for the first time ever, I saw snow. The forty or so of us proceeded to have a snow ball fight then return to the bus with blue frozen fingers and toes. It was totally worth it though 🙂

That afternoon we arrived to the small rodeo town of Cody, Wyoming. We all brought out our cowboy boots and hats and headed off the to rodeo for the evening!

The following days were spent in numerous national parks and time for some fresh air! We visited Yellowstone National Park, went on a horse ride through a local ranch, hiked through Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and finally, the one and only Grand Canyon!

We finished off our trip by spending three amazing days in Las Vegas where, like usual, we drank too much, spent too much and partied too much. It was the final hoorah for the contiki trip so we made the most of Las Vegas before everyone parting ways in Los Angeles, not without several tears and hugs and exchanges of phone numbers.

Contiki’s are infamous for that, creating bonds and friendships like no other. Not only are you travelling to incredible places for the first, and potentially one and only time, but you are sharing that experience and wanderlust with 49 other travellers.

People who are inspired by the world and want to achieve so much. Some already have achieved so much which inspires everyone else even more.

Thank you contiki for creating life long lasting memories and friendships for me with like minded travelers and world seekers.




Day 9 Tuesday 18th August- “Don’t think there aren’t second chances, there are always second chances, it’s called tomorrow”

Charlestown, North Carolina

Haha so today would have to be without a doubt the most interesting on contiki!

The day began on the coach yet again where the contiki Olympics started.

The bus was split in half down the middle and each side had a ball which started at the back of the bus, and which ever team had their ball to the front first was the winner!

The only two catches were though, that the ball had to go to each seat, and the the only part of the body that could be used was the neck. Yep quite an amusing game to say the least 🙂

Around mid morning, we arrived into the beautiful little town of Charlestown, North Carolina.

The town has been in the media lately due to the shooting of nine African Americans in one of the local churches by a racist man who sat with them in the church before shooting them.

The town is still in mourning and still quite fresh. I had every intention of paying my respects at the church but ran out of time due to unexpected circumstances.

Charlestown is also known for being featured in the movie, The Notebook.

The cinema that was in the movie as well as the red house that Alli lived in is in Charlestown.

Another thing about Charlestown is the unexpected flash floods, also featured in the movie when Noah and Alli are in the boat out on the lake.

Well, we sure did get the whole Notebook experience!

After a tour of the city on the bus, then lunch at a local seafood cafe, we attempted to make our way around town and got caught in the middle of a flash flood with water up to our knees.

Eventually with minutes to spare, we all made it back to the bus, everyone drenched, saturated and cold.

And we still had a 2 hour bus trip to Savannah Georgia ahead of us. But all that could be done was laugh I guess 🙂

It was late afternoon when we finally rolled into Savannah, Georgia. An optional of a ghost tour was booked tonight which about half of us joined in on, but only had about an hour to get ready (we all needed a hot shower!) and still hadn’t had dinner.

It was a very quick hot shower and change and snack before meeting and making our way to the house for the ghost tour.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in spirits and having encounters. Not sceptical at all, but I’m not going to even mention the name of the company that did the house tour then the city tour. It was the biggest waste of money, but oh well.

It was interesting hearing the history of the house and having the energy readers with us all to see if there was anything around us.

When we got to the walking city tour part of it, the tour guide kept ducking off to talk on the phone. I get it when something personal is going on. But just leave and go home and give people their money back or something.

So myself and 2 other girls caught an uber to the club we were meeting everyone at.

Uber- private transport, similar to a taxi. Can be ordered using an app on your smart phone and pre paid on credit card. Very handy and convenient, and the cars are much nicer and more modern than a taxi.

The club in Savannah is called the Tree House.

An upstairs bar overlooking Savannah with cheap and strong drinks!

It was the night before one of the guys birthdays so come midnight, everyone was up and dancing and having a ball of a time!


Grand Northern 2014 – Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon, Kanab and The Grand Canyon

Wednesday 11th June/ Thursday 12th June/ Friday 13th June

This morning most of the group joined the optional extra of White Water Rafting (Sorry, I don’t know the name of the company) I didn’t choose it, I scored a sleep in instead.

Today our tour saw us travel south through Wyoming and into Idaho. Our stop was at the beautiful area of Bear Lake.

The scenery was amazing. It looked like the kind of place that people had their summer holiday homes in the movies.

Grand homes stood by the fresh water blue lake. It is the second largest natural freshwater lake in Utah, after Utah Lake. A fresh sunny area to stop for lunch and a stretch before a movie afternoon back on the bus and on to Salt Lake City.

We arrived in the late afternoon to our motel, the Comfort Inn Salt Lake City We had time for a quick freshen up before a walking tour to Temple Square. This is the Mormon Temple and Salt Lake City’s most visited attraction. This luxurious church took 40 years to build and contains open gardens, historic art, visitors centres and assembly halls.

I’m not personally a religious person, but this visit was quite breathtaking.



That evening we had reservations for dinner at the Red Rock Brewing Co. Most of us were eager for food after a long bus day. We ended up walking several blocks in the wrong direction to the Red Rock Brewing Co. Beer Store – the actual brewery! That’s when we all found out that this was our tour guide’s first Grand Northern trip.

Finally when we reached our destination, we found a seat ate. The food was hardy and filling. Really great meals, almost pub like comparison to here in Australia and to die for wood fired pizzas. You won’t be disappointed!

After dinner, a large group of us contikians went for a drink at the Beerhive Pub. Being a Wednesday night and Salt Lake City not being known as a party town, one drink was all we enjoyed before turning in for the evening.

The following day, we departed Salt Lake City for Kanab. Along the way, we stopped in at Bryce Canyon for a hike and some fresh air. Trust me its needed when you sit on a coach for hours day in day out. Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah and consists of dry red rock formations known as hoodoos. There are several different hiking trails, with different distances and difficulties, all the trails connecting.


That afternoon, we checked into our accommodation at The 4 Seasons Motel Kanab. I was sad to find out that since the contiki, it has since closed down. While it was a little run down and tired looking, the rooms were a great size. Perfect for the ‘not-room-party’ party 😉 If you ever go on a contiki, or top deck etc, they will tell you ‘no room party’s’-  that’s a load of crap, everyone has them! Just don’t make a mess of the room or damage anything and you’ll be fine. But more of that to come later.

We had an included dinner across the road at the Chuckwagon Cookout located inside the Little Hollywood Museum. The food was just as good as the home cooked meal from the cookout at Teton Trail. Some much love and warmth put into their food. Can not recommend enough. Yum!

So back to the room party part. After we explored the little hollywood museum following dinner, we all headed back to the motel. The night was still young for us partiers, and with no night life in the town- the guys in a corner room (which was huge!) hosted a room party. I think most of the group managed to fit themselves in and we played never have I ever and drinking games for hours.

The evening may have ended in a nudie run or two through the carpark on behalf of a small group of gentleman. It was a night to never forget and full of many laughs and contiki bonding moments.

On Friday June 13th, the day finally came for one I had been waiting the whole trip for- the Grand Canyon! I was so excited, this was something that had been on my bucket list for probably the longest out of everything.

We arrived at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon early in the morning and began the day with breakfast before going for a hike through North Kaibab Trail. It was some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen. The photos that I took will never do it justice, and the real images I’ve saved in my memories I’ll never forget. You can talk about it and show people pictures, but it really is something to be seen for yourself to truly understand the magnitude of the park and the beauty of nature.




We spent all morning on the trail until it was time to return and have lunch at the Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room. It wasn’t an included lunch and was a little pricey, but you expect that in a high tourist traffic destination. I chose the buffet and great food with a lot to choose from, and fresh too.

I took a few more photos out on the deck, then it was time to pack up and leave to go back to Kanab for one more night.

Most of us had a quiet night of laundry catch up and chinese for dinner from Fusion House. If your looking for an affordable, fresh and filling meal, I would highly recommend this place. Great options for sharing too.

An early night that evening was in order. After all, the three biggest days we were about to have on contiki were almost upon us. Viva Las Vegas, here we come!

Grand Northern 2014 – Yellowstone and Jackson Hole

Monday 9th June/ Tuesday 10th June

Yesterday was such an incredible day! I got to see snow for the first time and and my first rodeo. What an amazing experience! #contiki 🙂

The morning began with us packing up in Cody and leave to go to Yellowstone National Park. It was such a beautiful place!

On the bus along the way, we saw buffalos and wilderness that went on for what seemed forever.

The wildlife here in Yellowstone is amazing.

People might find it weird to be facinated about animals, but when you are from a country where you’ve never once seen a buffalo before, it is pretty spectacular to be so close so such a creature.


Nature is truly amazing.

We spent the whole day in the wunderlust of Yellowstone National Park. The scenes were breathtaking and the pictures could never do a place like it justice.


I was pretty proud of my nerdy moose beanie. Future contikians, take note. Take as many photos as you can!

Yellowstone National Park took up most of the day and before checking into our accomodation for one night, the Brandin’ Iron Inn. It was such a cute little place and right down the road from the shooting range, Big Gun Fun, where most of us contikians spent the evening. There were plenty of fun zombie targets to choose from and after practicing with a rookie gun, I stepped it up with one that had a little more power. Turns out I’m not a bad shot either!

The next morning, the whole team seemed to have a new lease on life. Maybe for once, I quiet night had been called for, and for a short time, our bodies were detoxing of excesive contiki alcohol.

Our day began with a visit to the ‘Old Faithful Geyser‘. This geyser is well known for erupting on average every hour to two hours, and is also known for the fact that it is located in Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first national park which was declared in 1872.


After our early morning visit to the geyser and Yellowstone National Park, it was yet again time to hop back on the bus as we travelled through the countryside and farm land of Wyoming. Next destination – Jackson Hole.

We arrived into the picture postcard town mid afternoon and checked into our motel, the Super 8 by Wyndham. Oh Em Gee, this place is so damn cute! All around us, mountain ranges as far as the eye could see. Jackson Hole is a very popular place during the winter time for skiing and winter sports.

The evenings plan included a visit to the Teton Village for a Trail Ride and home cooked meal by the Madson family at Teton Village Trail Rides.



The food was AMAZING!!! Probably the best food I’d had so far on the trip. There’s nothing quite like a good home cooked meal topped off with toasted smores over the fire 🙂

By this point of the trip, I was certainly beginning to feel the fatigue of so much activity and frequent partying nights out. With some exciting locations yet to come, myself and most of the group opted for a night in to catch up on laundry and rest.

Next stop! Grand Northern 2014 – Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon, Kanab and The Grand Canyon



Grand Northern 2014 – Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Keystone, Deadwood and Cody

Friday 6th June/ Saturday 7th June/ Sunday 8th June

Today was a very long bus day. There was a short trip to our first stop, Mitchell, South Dakota to the Corn Palace.

A very country vibe and quite a cool place indeed 🙂

The whole building was covered in corn and the pictures and designs we made from, you guessed it, CORN! So cool!


I loved visiting this place! We shopped and took some silly photos. It was such a unique place and a very quirky American icon, not to be missed 🙂

From there it was another couple of hours on the bus playing celebrity heads and eating lots and lots of candy.

When we reached Badlands Naitonal Park, it was like we were free children in a playground. We were able to get out doors and breath in some fresh country air!

We drove through the park listening to ‘The Lion King’ music and admiring the amazing scenery.


It is hard to explain the beauty of nature in a place like this. Even though the day was overcast and dark, the colours on the rock were like nothing else in this world. We even stopped in for a little picnic in the park 🙂


That afternoon, we stopped in at the cute little town of Wall Drug to pick up supplies for the rodeo in Cody and took some fun photos around in the unique town.




Finally the day was drawing to an end as we headed to our final destination for the day; Keystone, to tourist one stop town for anyone visiting Mt. Rushmore. Our contiki accomodation that night was the Washington Inn and Suites.

That evening our dinner was buffet style at the Keystone House Restaurant next door. I won’t beat around the bush, it wasn’t the best meal I’d had on tour. It was included though so nothing to complain about. I stocked up on the fruit and snacks for the bus trips.

I managed to sneak in some ‘in-the-sink- laundry and hang up some spare clothes before calling it a night.

Saturday, June 7th

This was one of the most exciting days that I had really been looking forward to out of the whole trip. I am sure that most of you reading could agree; visiting Mt. Rushmore is way up there on the bucket list when visiting the USA!

The morning started off cold and gloomy in Keystone and we were worried if we would even be able to see anything by the time we reached the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore. However our luck rolled in as the clouds rolled away and we squeezed in some great typical tourist shots.







We unfortunately did’t have the same luck when we headed to the Crazy Horse Memorial. The whole moutain was covered and we could barely see maybe 5 metres in front of us.

There was a lot to learn though. The Crazy Horse Memorial has an incredible story. It is not as well heard of because it is still a work in progress and it is tributed to the Native American’s. Back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, work began on the statue after Mt. Rushmore had been completed and to this stay is still privately funded. If it is to ever be completed, it would be one of the world’s largest statues.

It was great that Contiki included this in the tour, as most tourist’s I guess would not know about it otherwise, and I loved exploring through the museum.


The afternoon was spent in the historic town of Deadwood. Have you ever heard of Calamity Jane? Well her travels through this town was a huge part of her story. We had found the Wild West! A small group of us found the No. 10 Saloon to watch the reenacment of of the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok and enjoy a cold beverage after all of our running around. Yes, what do you expect, we were drinking every day on Contiki!

The evening came to an end exploring back in Keystone in a local’s secret pub, Halley’s 1880 Store. This one is difficult to explain unless you’ve been there! They had only a few select beers and mixers, but not only was this place a bar, but a mixture of that and a thrift shop/ Vinnies. But cooler! As I was sipping on my lolly water drink, I ventured down to the basement where spare car parts, jars and chest of drawers. The basement kind of gave me to creeps, so I went up to the attic, where I swear I saw a ghost! But noy only that (ghosts and spirits don’t bother me too much) but household items galore. Bicycles, crockery, books, clothes, board games…


This place is a hoarders heaven! They had everything


Some say it was the lighting, others say its a ghost, the owner says her name is Lucy!


It wasn’t until about 2am and after going through old business journals and ledgers, launghing over the adventures that had already been, that we all decided it was time to call it a night. Tomorrow, we had rodeo!

Sunday, June 8th

Well today I decided to sit up the front of the bus, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. This one is for all of the Aussie’s that have never seen snow before.

Remember, it is June in the USA and we are all in thongs and shorts and what ever is comfy for our bus trip. As the contiki bus climbed into the mountains of Wyoming, little by little on the side of the road, specs of white began appearing in the shrubs. All of the Aussie’s that were awake including myself begged Marv, our driver to pull over for just 5 minutes. 80% of the Australians on the bus had never seen snow before!



Yep, I’m standing in the snow in thongs!


We were simply blessed to see snow. Real snow! Not something seen where most of us were from in the land down under. Just awesome.

Our contiki accomodation for that evening was at Buffalo Bill’s Antler Inn. We continued the contiki ritual of drinking and quickly getting ready with the 15 minutes we had left before heading out for yet another night in a new town.

Our contiki group had a very warm welcome at the local Cody Rodeo. Yeehaw!


Such a cheesy group photo!

I even managed a beer and a gross American hotdog at the rodeo. When then ended the night at the Silver Dollar Bar where we all probably drank way too much (surprise surprise) and requested all of the classic travel songs from the old jukebox in the corner.

Need to know more? Next we headed to Grand Northern 2014 – Yellowstone and Jackson Hole



Grand Northern 2014 – Madison & Sioux Falls


I saw this on a building in Milwaukee and I knew I had to take a snap of it

Wednesday 4th June/ Thursday 5th June

Today we left Chicago in the rain and picked up a few new contikians that were doing the second half of the trip with us.

We stopped in at Milwaukee for lunch then over to the Miller Brewing Company for a contiki included beer tour 🙂

Not that I drink beer but it was still exciting. I was going to at least try what they gave us, just to say I tried it.


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The Miller Brewing Company was originally founded in 1855, by Mr. Frederick Miller with a special brewers yeast and an ambition to brew confoundly good beers! For 160 years now, the brewing company has been said to be leaders in the brewing industry and still to this day calls Millwaukee home.

We toured through the historic caves and packaging factories and ended the tour in the sampling pub where we each tried about 4 different beers. I tried a sip of each of mine as they came out then I passed mine on discretely to the next person for them to enjoy 🙂

On our way to Madison after the brewery tour, there were a couple of tipsy individuals who really endulged in their beer at the brewery haha.

That night our contiki accomodation was at the Econolodge Madison.

My plan for that evening was to stay in and do a serious catch up of laundry after dinner! Things were getting dire in the clothing department.

We had dinner at the Hometown Buffet ( I don’t know why I am bothering tagging the restaurant link for this one, as yet another place that is closed since the contiki lol)

The contiki bus driver was going to drop everyone who wanted to go out for the night to a local bar and everyone else was to stay on the bus to go back to the hotel. Well, originally, my plan was the latter. HOWEVER!

As per usual contiki style, I was very easily convinced by my new contiki friends to come out and not be a homebody.

This new thing called, FOMO (fear of missing out) was real. I really didn’t want to miss out on all of the fun that my friends were having if I was stuck back at the hotel doing boring laundry. Hmm, yeah laundry can wait haha.

The bar that night was the Red Rock Saloon, the cutest cowboy bar I had ever seen 🙂

There was a local duo playing country music up on the stage and our bartender was very generous on her free pour. In return, I know she made her tips that night. The more we tipped, the stronger the next drink became.

The evening continued with turns on the mecahnical bull in the corner and everyone busting a move on the dance floor to the country music 🙂

The next day, we left Madison very early on the bus to head to the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota.

After our brief stop at the museum, we had a very long bus afternoon ahead of us, travelling 315 kilometers from Austin, Minnesota to Siuox Falls, South Dakota.

It was such a pretty city and of course we stopped at the Falls Park before checking in to our one nighter stay contiki accomodation at the Baymont Inn and Suites, Sioux Falls.

Our dinne that night wasn’t contiki included but we chose to go to the local ‘Outback Steakhouse. Our contiki manager recommended it so that we could have a bit of local home experience for us Australians. Haha, well I know ‘cheese fries’ and ‘shrimps’ are far from Australian, but nice try!

Finally that night after dinner, we all mutually agreed that it was time for some chill out time. Some went to see a movie, others stayed in and caught up on laundry and others just phoned home to check in.

Ready for more? – Grand Northern 2014 – Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, Keystone, Deadwood and Cody

Contiki 2014 – Grand Northern USA

Grand Northern 2014 – Cleveland & Chicago

Sunday 1st June/ Monday 2nd June/ Tuesday 3rd June

Today, we bid farwell to Canada and crossed over the border back to the United States. It was about midday when we were going through customs and stocked up on some goodies at the HUGE duty free store.

We arrived into Cleveland that afternoon where we went straight to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.


We only had about 3 hours to explore the 6 floors of the amaxing building. The hisory, the memorabilia, the film clips and the overall atmosphere of the place, it was just so cool! There is no other word for it, COOL!

Our hotel in Cleveland was the Comfort Inn Downtown.

A lot of us were pretty worn out from a massive few nights, so after a small dinner, we went bowling for a quiet and tame night.

Our stay over in Cleveland was only for one night, because next up was the one and only, windy city, Chicago!

On route to Chicago, we stopped in at Amish Acres (yes this place even has its own website).

It was an Amish farm that is open for tourists and school groups for education. It was really quite interesting learning about the history and lifestyle. No televisions or technology (the website and business side of things are run seperately). It was described as very family orientated with group church every Sunday and rumspringer is a real thing.

Although our guide told us it was Ok to take photos, I didn’t in respect of the fact that it is against Amish beliefs to have your photo taken. I did by a souvenir shot glass at the gift shop though.

Later that afternoon, we arrived into Chicago where we had our city tour that included the only 2 remianing original buildings left after the 1871 Great Chicago Fire that killed up to 300 people, destroyed 9 square kms and left more than 100,000 Chicago residents homeless.

The evenings events consisted of some famous Chicago deep pan pizza pie from Giordano’s.

Talk about getting a taste of the local food! Wow, those pizza pies were MASSIVE and had so much stuffing. I only needed a couple of pieces with some salad and I was set haha. Myself and a couple of other girls shared a few bottles of wine between us.

In true contiki style, we proceeded to head out for the night to adventure. Considering it was only a Monday night, it seemed that we would have to make our own party somewhere. Craig, the contiki manager reccomended an old mafia pub, Bootleggers. It was small but so cute! It had a karaoke machine set up in one corner, a giant Jenga in the other corner and up the back was even a beer pong table.


The night continued with lots of jenga and karaoke again.

I would highly reccomend this place, but I was sad to find out that it has actually recently closed down 😦

Our hotel in Chicago was The Best Western Grant Park.

Needless to say, in true contiki style, both myself and my room mate were excessively hungover. Room mates stick together haha.

A couple of other fellow contikians managed to motivate us, messaging us that we had by 11am to get our butts down to the lobby to make the most of the warm beautiful day. And that is exactly what we did!

My roomie and I had lunch down at the Navy Pier while the rest of the group with us wandered around the peer, looking at the shops and attractions. After exploring for a little longer, we went into Macy’s to fill in some more time before the baseball game that night.


That night, I got to see my first live baseball game at Wrigley Field.

I don’t think I had ever even seen a game in general before. But in America, because it such a popular game, I knew it was something that I couldn’t miss out on.

The game went for a couple of hours before it felt like anything was happening, but it was part of the fun. We could see plenty of the field from where we were sitting, but there were also televisions above us for a clearer view.

After about the 3rd hour, some of the fellow contikians left to go the bar across the road, Sluggers.

Myself and a few others decided to stay. I know I didn’t want to miss anything incase anything exciting did happen!

On about the 4th hour, the Chicago Cubs gave the crowd some excitement, with a home run or two, they won the game right at the end!! And well didn’t the crowd just go wild. Us Australians even joined in once we learnt the words of the teams victory song. The words shined out infront of us on the huge televisions around the statdium, so it wasn’t hard to keep up.

“Go, Cubs, go
Go, Cubs, go
Hey, Chicago, what do you say
The Cubs are gonna win today.”

We joined the rest of the group at the bar, where we managed to get our own section before all the locals arrived due to the others that left the game early grabbing us a few tables 🙂

We even had table service so that we didn’t have to wait in line for an hour to get a drink!

No need to say that it was another typical contiki night on tour! The DJ had many Australian requests and all the locals were fascinated by our accents.

“G’day Mate”, they would ask us to say haha.

To check out the next place we visited- click here 😉

#no regrets Contiki Grand Northern 2014

Grand Northern 2014 – Toronto & Niagara Falls

Thursday 29th May/ Friday 30th May/ Saturday 31st May

Today we left Montreal for Toronto.

Not far out of Montreal though, we stopped in at a little town, Gananoque where the contiki optional ‘1000 Island Boat Cruise’ is held.

I decided not to sign up for this as well as maybe 20 or so others. We sat on the grassy knoll by the water and wached the boat sail off. I played some music through my phone and sunbaked while a few of the guys threw a football around. It was nice to relax outdoors for a bit before getting back on the bus after the boat cruise had finished, and we continued onto Toronto.

By mid afternoon, we were checked into our hotel, The Bond Place Hotel. This place was so cute! I loved it ❤

We showered and changed for our contiki included dinner at The Pickel Barrel after a tour in the bus of the city! It reminded my of New York, but a Canadian version I guess.



Oh my! The food at The Pickle Barrel was amazing! It was by far the best food that I had had on tour. The cocktails of course were reasonably priced, so we had one or two!

By now I am sure that it was suggested that we start attending A.A meetings haha.

After a mouthwatering dinner, we wandered over to a karaoke bar, Crocodile Rock.

I am certain that a few of us had gained a little bit of liquid courage from the cheap shots to grace our prescence on stage to belt out the classic ballads. So much contiki bonding! haha. I entertained our contiki group with rendition of “Man, I feel like a woman”, by Shania Twain. We danced and sang and played pool all night until we were kicked out at closing time.

The following morning was rusty for most of us to say the least. I opted for a rest day and went to find a spa to get a good massage. The time on the bus had started to take its toll and my back wasn’t in the best shape.

After lunch, I headed to down town Toronto on my own to check out the CN Tower and the aquarium. I didn’t end up going up to the top of the tower, but I wish I had.

Next time 😉

That night, we had a school bus pub crawl organised. A contiki optional was to go to the Second City Comedy Show, where the bus would pick us up. Myself and a new friend of mine, Elissa, hadn’t gone to the show.

So instead we had dinner from the hotel in our room before getting ready for the night. We hopped on the bus from the hotel and went to pick everyone else from the comedy show to begin the pub crawl.


The first stop of the bus tour was McVeigh’s Irish Pub!


Thank god that the next place, Cube bar wasn’t far from the hotel. Myself and another girl ran back to the hotel to change out of our stinking heels and into party flats. I’m really not a fan of heels anyway!

Finally we ended the night at Gravity Soundbar where I received the most uncomfortable patdown by the female security guard. I get it, they dont want things snuck in, but Wow! This place is no longer open now and I probably wouldn’t rate it anyway. The music was good but the place was pretty rundown, especially the toilets downstairs and the drinks were extremely overpriced.

Still a good night had by all! Lots of contiki bonding and a bit of home sickness in there as well.

By 2am, the bus was ready to take back whoever was ready to leave. So back on we went and found a late night feed somewhere near the hotel.

The next day, Saturday May 31st, Niagara Falls was our next destination!

On the hour and a half drive from Toronto to Niagara, every single person slept to recover from the night before and we all stocked up on gatorade. Dehydration had begun to set in.

The power nap was just what I needed and when we got off the bus and walked down to the dock for the boat tour, I had began to feel as good as new!

The night before, I had worn shorts on the pub crawl and a few people had noticed my scars by then. Up until then, I hadn’t really showed them off. It’s not that I am emabarrased or ashamed of my scars, but typically with new people, I can be a little more hesitant about people seeing the scars. But the contiki bonding that had formed over the last few days, made me feel a lot more comfortable. I got a few questions along the way to the boat cruise, which I was more than happy to answer. I would much prefer it over the people that just stare.

When we reached the dock, we waited in line where rain ponchos were handed out to us. On the boat, it was such spectacular scenery. We got sprayed a few times from the mist of the falls but I really enjoyed it. Another one ticked off of the bucket list 🙂


During the afternoon after the boat cruise, we still had a few hours before the bus was coming back to pick us up so we got lunch up town and explored the quirky town of Niagara. The main street was full of ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’s, wax museums, game arcades, bowling alleys and putt putt golf courses. It was huge for the tourists after the falls being the main attraction of course.

For dinner that evening, we headed back into Toronto for yet another contiki included dinner (YES! my back account thanks you haha) at Spring Rolls in down town Toronto. Still to this day was some of the best sushi I have ever had. Yum Yum!

Where to next? Back to the mighty United States of America – Grand Northern 2014 – Cleveland & Chicago

#noregrets Contiki Grand Northern 2014


Grand Northern 2014 – Quebec City & Montreal

Sunday 25th May/ Monday 26th May/ Tuesday 27th May/ Wednesday 28th May

As we ended our time in Boston, us rowdy contikians once again managed to crawl back onto the bus to head into Canada eh!

We spent quite a few hours of the morning on the bus and having introductions and making our first stop at a Walmart to stock up on some goodies for the bus 🙂

Our first stop was Quebec City! We had a city tour on the bus where we had a chance to see ‘Old Quebec’, a beautiful historic part of the city with cobblestone lanes and little French boutiques.


quebec park

Our first night in Canada was spent in Quebec City where we dined at Cosmo’s Café in the heart of the city before hitting the town once more.

We partied at the night club, Dagobert. At first when we arrived, the place was a little empty so we started off with an all round contiki shot. By 10.30pm, the place really started to fill up with locals and it was a night full of vodka and dancing!

The next day was a free day which I spent exploring the shops and amazing old buildings in the area. I hadn’t really made any friends yet on contiki and I was happy doing my own thing on free days.

I managed to squeeze in a load of washing back at the hotel that afternoon and I played cards and had a few (more than likely too many) drinks with a few of my new friends before we went out for an included buffet dinner.

The following day, Tuesday May 27th, we said fairwell to our Quebec City hotel, the Hotel Le Voyageur and journeyed over to Montreal.

Sightseeing of the city was first on the list.

We drove up to the lookout at Mt Royal to get some shots of the city.



Unfortunately, the day was cold and over cast. After the stop at the lookout, we had a Jet Boating tour booked on the St Lawrence river as a contiki optional ( I can’t remember the price I paid for this, but worth every cent!) I am sure that most of us were quite nervous and hesitant, given the gloomy weather conditions.

But we pushed and on arrival of Saute Jet-Boating , we were changed into layers and layers of jumpers and waterproof overalls as well as water shoes and a life jacket. They were well equiped for the fact that we were about to be soaked going through the rapids!

We were out in the rapids for close to an hour and it was the most fun I’d had in quite a long time! It really was an adrenaline rush and I would highly recommend these guys any day for something cool to do in Montreal!

That night our accomodation was in the Sandman Hotel, Montreal.

It was close to downtown which was great, because of course, we dressed up to the nines and headed out on the town again after a contiki included dinner.

The contiki tour manager had recommended a local bar named Winston Churchill Bar.

The local hockey team was playing in some pre season finals on the TV’s around the sports bar and of course after their win, all of the locals decided to make it quite a party!

There were celebrations all round (and of course all of us contikians were always up for a party).

There were $2.50 jeigerbomb shot specials and with all of the partying, it was much easier to buy a round each time and do a group shot! Haha oh dear contiki, what are you doing to me?

With far too many shots in our bellies, we left as a group and safely back to our hotel with a stop of takeaway pizza along the way 🙂

The next day was extremely uneventful as most of us nursed our sore heads and headed to the underground shopping centres to grab some souvenirs and appropriate hangover food.

Next stop, Toronto and Niagara Falls!

#noregrets Contiki Grand Northern 2014

Grand Northern 2014 – Boston

Friday 23rd May/ Saturday 24th May

Well the first few days of my very first contiki was quite interesting!

I remember thinking, if this is what the next four weeks has to bring, then this is going to be one hell of an adventure 🙂

We left New York City bright and early on our contiki bus, all 50 of us crammed in, one traveler already asleep on the ground after a big night of partying as we left the city limits of the Big Apple.

Our first stop for lunch and to stretch our legs was New Haven, Connecticut. While we were there, a few of us wondered around the Yale University campus only to discover that it wasn’t open for tours due to a graduation ceremony.

As we made our way around the outside walls, we discovered a an open back door that we snuck in through to get some quick pictures.

yale dog

When we went to leave out the door that we came in, it had since closed! We had locked ourselves inside Yale University with no way of getting back out. Fortunately, a student was walking by and saw a group of very lost looking ladies panicking about being locked in. He took some fun pictures with us before letting us back out of the campus with his student card. We then had quite a funny story to tell on the bus on the way to Boston.

That evening, we arrived into Boston where we had a city tour on the bus and dinner at Dick’s Last Resort. An entertaining evening full of sarcastic waiters and dirty named shots.. (I am sure you can use your imagination for that one)

The evening ended with a few more drinks at a small bar called the 6B Lounge. It was a cute quiet corner bar and restaurant that turned into the local hot spot on a Friday night!

The following day, we were all a little seedy from the previous nights shenanigans full of shots and making new friends. Nothing gets a good conversation going like a drink and a dance.

We had an organized tour at Harvard University.

harvard 1

There were no Elle Woods moments, but a very interesting story about the history of the campus. Our tour guide was a student who was studying law and had been at school for four years, and still had another three to go!

She loved doing the tours and had such passion for Harvard. She made it fun and entertaining.

Harvard has an extensive history with the university being founded in the 1630’s, all without buildings, with out teachers and without students!

We stopped at the ‘Statue of John Harvard’, otherwise known as ‘The Statue of 3 Lies’.

harvard 3

The three lies being-

  1. John Harvard is the founder of Harvard University.  LIE!

    The statue claims that John Harvard is the founder of the school, when actually he donated half of his estate and a lot of money to the university when he died 2 years after it was originally founded by a vote by the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony


  2. Harvard University was founded in 1638. LIE AGAIN

    It was actually founded in 636, which makes it the oldest institution of higher education in the United States.

  3. The statue is of John Harvard. HAHA Third LIE

    No one actually knows what the real John Harvard looked like and there is no records of what he may have looked like. A one Sherman Hoar sat for the statue, who later  went on to became a member of Congress and US District Attorney.



That afternoon, we headed back into central Boston where we caught the street car around to see some more local sights 🙂


boston 4

boston 3

boston 2


That night ended in a ‘room gathering’ of drinks and snacks before having an early night.

During our visit in Boston we stayed at the Ramada Hotel.

To check out the next place we visited, hope on over to the next post 🙂

Contiki Grand Northern 2014