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Europe 2014

Europe 2014

Nice and the French Riviera - Contiki

Terracotta tiles sheltering Tuscan-coloured houses, lining endless cobblestone streets. Black pebbled beaches, sparkling cyan waters, infinite blue skies and a thriving art scene. Architecture designed with detail and intricacy, vibrant gelato to satisfy both the eye and the tummy, buzzing nightlife and limitless sights and streets to explore.

One of the most beautiful places in the entire world: 
Côte d’Azur and its capital – Nice.

Entering the French Riviera, driving down the curvaceous cliffsides, surrounded by the homes, cars and views of the rich and famous, was no less than breathtaking.

A smile formed from ear to ear, and an instant sense of surreal contentment overwhelmed my body, warming my soul and filling with my lungs with freedom.

This trip, I experienced Nice Contiki-style. Now while Contiki is one of the most popular and well-known brands for package travel for young people, in recent years it has been working to shift that stereotypical perception of Contiki that it is only about drinking and partying. So, throw someone like me in the mix and you can see that Contiki can also be about fitness, forging friendships, food and unforgettable fun experiences. The FUN factor hasn’t changed at all.

I have had so many people ask me while I was in Europe and since I have been back, how my experience with Contiki was, considering I am a non-drinker. 
Firstly, I’d like to quickly point out that I am not a non-drinker by definition. I do indulge in a few nights of drinking a year, but generally save those nights for very important or special events (and drinks I actually enjoy the taste of). I don’t really enjoy the taste of everyday alcohol, so I will never have a drink just for the sake of drinking or for fun. I have never needed alcohol as an excuse to have fun or act silly or be clumsy or to dance badly or to make bad decisions. I can and do all that even if I only drink milk! 

On my Contiki experience I didn’t drink at all except for the free glass of wine with dinner on the very last night, and that was simply because it was free, and I obviously didn’t remember that I don’t enjoy the taste. Although as soon as I tasted it I instantly remembered. 
The rest of my trip, the breathalyser would have read 0.00. I do think I was the only one on the trip who didn’t drink at all for the first six days. But often there were others who wanted to have a night off drinking, so I was always in good company!

The human body can only handle so much – it needs rest and recovery from a big night or it rapidly burns out.

 As you can imagine, there were a dozen or so party-positive people who were always on the lookout for another bar, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves too. 

The Contiki experience offers so much more than that was reinforced when one traveller stood up on self-introduction day and said they had been on this exact Contiki tour before, but had partied the whole time and couldn’t remember anything other than that they had a blast! She was doing Contiki again so she could do it a little differently this time and take in as much of her surroundings and experiences as well as have a memorably fun time –  that’s what I call balance.

There was also another large group of people who were predominantly on Contiki for the experience, friendships, sight seeing and exploring. These travellers would still go out every second night or so, but return at an appropriate hour so they could spend the following day adventuring! 
There are certainly a lot of different intentions and partying philosophies involved when it comes to Contiki tours, and no intention or expectation is better than any other. As long as the soul is enjoying itself and having no regrets, then there really is no problem! 
“It’s not wrong, it’s just different.” as Kate, our Contiki leader liked to say!

And I found Contiki certainly caters for those differences.

I arrived in Nice and couldn’t wait to get to the beach and start exploring!

The first night in Nice took the form of a traditional all-inclusive (ie included in cost of Contiki tour) pre-dinner drinks and three-course dinner where the focus is being social and togetherness - traditionally a rather large night for those who wish to indulge. I definitely ate a lot!

After dinner, our Contiki leader led the group to one of the rowdiest, most fun and exciting clubs in Nice. It’s known for the promotion and acceptance of tabletop dancing and became (for some) a night they’ll never remember and for others an experience they never forget!

We jumped straigh into the fun and adventuring the next day! It was spent sourcing fresh ice cream, climbing cliffs, soaking in the exquisite views of both charm and elegance, plus visiting perfumeries. 

I only had two days in Nice and with Contiki I managed to fit so much in, but it is definitely a destination featuring on my bucket List. I will go back!

Bring Me Back to London. Please.

I only had a 12-hour overnight in London. I saw just enough during transfers to know I want to get back there and explore one day, as soon as I can.

London Bucket List:
All the London icons (of course)
Explore London on foot
Wax Museum
Lunch by the Thames
The architecture, the arts, theatre and music
Platform 9 and 3/4
Hyde Park
Jogging along residential streets
Shopping at Harrods (or wherever)
Pub dinner and drinks
Meet some Londoners
People watching
London clubbing and party scene (maybe)
Ride a Red Double-Decker — By day and by night
Yoga in Hyde Park (or any park)
Go on a scavenger hunt
Ride the Underground
Do something romantic
Soak up the English accents
Make a wish
The food, cafes and restaurants
Enrol in a cooking class
Meet a London cat or dog
Picnic in a park
Get lost and have an adventure
Browse in a luxury car showroom
St James
Trafalgar Square
Covent Garden
London Bridge.

Then, I want to venture into the countryside and the towns and villages, ride a bike, watch a polo game, learn to play polo, play golf in English tradition, swim in a stream, smell the flowers in an English garden, cartwheel in a field, pat a horse, watch cheese being made, climb a tree, go to a big soccer game, a country pub, enjoy a homecooked English breakfast, play paintball, get dirty, sunbake, follow a rainbow,
watch an English sunset and sunrise. 
Sjana x

* Results from BAM may vary. Strict adherence to the program is required for best results.

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