I woke and it was our last day of tour. We didn’t have anything planned except for a long ride back to London, where there was dinner planned for any keen participants at The London Pub. We said good bye to those staying on in Amsterdam and those who were dropped off at the airport. I was sad but excited about starting my own adventure.
It was a typical travel day with glorious landscapes and Arnie playing every time we needed to stop.
We arrived in London late in the afternoon (possibly even early evening!) and we played our tour song ‘So Good’ by B.O.B one more time. I shed a tear because even though I hadn’t got on with a few of the group, I had spent the last 30 days with them and some of them had become quite good friends of mine.
It was at this point, Cindy (our TM) made the annoucement that we were her first ever tour and that we would always hold a special place in her heart. That made me smile and shed a few more tears but happy ones.
After dropping off my luggage at my hotel, I made my way back to The London Pub and had a few quite froffies to finish off a chapter in my 8 week adventure.
I was sad it had finished but glad because I knew what was happening next and it was going to be a blinder.
Wow, did I feel like crap. Crap is a complete an understatement. The words to describe how I really left cannot be aired on this blog.
Not only did I get no sleep, I spent nearly all the hours away from the bar that night, in my room, throwing up. I was seriously regretting drowning my sorrows. I tried to make it down for breakfast but the smell of food made my stomach even more queezy. I had trouble standing, sitting and even laying down. Everything made me feel like I was going to be sick, even though I had nothing left in my stomach to throw up.
The entire first part of the day was spent with my walking around aimlessly, trying to find somewhere to try and feel better. I ended up sitting on our balcony walkway, knees bought up to my chest and head resting on my knees, in the cold. At least I was thinking about being cold, rather than thinking about feeling sick.
I stayed there for a while; people passed me on the walkway and I either ignored them or grunted. I did not care on little bit.
Just after midday, I was able to shuffle around a little bit and muster up the courage to walk to the post office. I needed to send things home as I still had 3 weeks worth of travelling and having excess luggage of 10kg+ was definitely going to be an issue. I managed to cut down my suitcase by approx half, which gave me the max limit for my Haggis Tour, 15kg. Off to the post office I walked and hoped these boxes got home safe. They carried all my heels I’d bought so far (3 pairs) and a whole heap of other souvenirs. After working out my own luggage and helping others with theirs, it was time for our afternoon canal cruise and dinner.
I hadn’t eaten all day which probably wasn’t a bad thing as I was still feeling pretty average. The canal cruise was interesting and there some interesting stories on how houses were built leaning forward so you could winch furniture upstairs from the outside for 2 reasons. 1; the staircases were too skinny to fit the likes of a bed or couch and 2; The furniture didn’t smash into the house on its way up. We also learnt that people used to pay tax on how many windows they had on their street front and that one person built his house one window wide so he didn’t have to pay excess tax.
Dinner was at an Asian Restaurant and I was still reluctant to eat something. However, when they starting bringing out the food, my stomach quickly realized I was starving. After about 5 courses, it was time to head out on the town for the last night of our tour. I had no interest in drinking and neither did a few of the other girls from the night before, so we all decided to head into the Red Light District to get Lauren a tattoo on her foot.
The tattoo parlour was super cool and super clean. I didn’t feel nervous for Lauren. In fact, I think if I had been there 10 minutes longer than we were, I may have just come home with a tattoo too. However that did not happen. She got “There’s no place like home” on the top of her foot. It did look pretty sweet.
After that, we cabbed it back to the hotel and went straight to bed. No drinking and no partying. I didn’t need a hangover on the last day of travel.
At this point in time we were on our last legs for the tour having only 3 more days to go. 😦 Today we would leave the spooky, eerie Swiss Alps for the Rhine Valley in Germany. We were to have a few stops along the way to break up the journey.
Travel days were more becoming about sleep rather than watching the wilderness pass us by through the bus window. It was a quiet day, having had the party in the Bomb Shelter last night and a few sorer heads than the night before.
Our first stop was just over the border of Germany, and into the smallish town of Heidelberg. Some say this was the birth place of gummy bears (and even if they weren’t correct on the town, they were definitely correct on the country) so naturally everyone wanted to sort out the best bears they could find. I cannot stand gummy bears. Maybe its because they are so chewy and I’m just lazy but really, I just don’t like the rubbery texture. I chose to use the hour or so exploring and taking photos. I may have also looked in a few shoe shops but was unlucky in purchasing anything. They have an old castle which I am sure you can explore and I would have loved to but as I said, with only an hour to explore, there definitely wasn’t enough time. I tried to get some photos but due to the lack in time and so many tall buildings in between the castle and myself, it was difficult.
We then weaved our way through the valleys, following the Rhine River and passing many vineyards and castles along the way. We took in the site of Lorelei Rock and was told of it’s history and folklore as we continued our way through the Rhine Valley. We stopped in the small town of St. Goar to learn how they create porcelain beer steins. To me and some of my fellow contikians, it was more of a sales pitch rather than an explanation on how they were made. I had make a promise to myself to buy my dad a stein for his birthday, regardless of the cost. They literally had thousands. I was browsing through them when I spotted some Harley Davidson LIMITED Edition ones. My dad owns a Harley and definitely looks like a scary bikie to most people. It was THE perfect present. I got them to send it home for me as I didn’t want it broken in my suitcase. It cost me a pretty penny but it was the only present I had got for my dad and he was definitely worth all the money I paid. (I didn’t eat for a week though) Across the road, was a store that made real cuckoo clocks and hold the Guiness Book of Records Record for the World’s largest free standing (but actually hanging) cuckoo clock. I didn’t find it viable to buy one of those as well, so I just stuck with the beer stein.
Shuttling back aboard the coach, we made our way through St Goar and up the Rhine Valley to a small and very old town. It had a pub in which all our rooms were owned by and crowded around the tables and stairs outside to enjoy a few beers and dinner. It was a pretty quiet night for the crew but the next two days were to be pretty crazy… AMSTERDAM!
Today we were to take the world’s highest cog rail up Jungfrau Mountain to see some brilliant views of the Swiss Alps that engulfed the small town of Lauterbrunnun. The cog rail was pretty cool and it’s carriages were bright yellow. It was to take about an hour to get to the top and we would have several stops so people could take photos. There were a few sore heads on the train from drinking the night before. I was only tired from having a very shit sleep and was certain I, along with others, had been bitten by bed bugs. They were nasty little creatures that enjoy biting you, just to you are reminded of their presence by scratching all the time.
On the way up the mountain, the weather was overcast but it make more a more eerie feeling when photographing the ginormous cliff faces and alps. As we got higher and higher in altitude, the weather turned sour. A massive blizzard was cooking up a storm on the top of Jungfrau and it wasn’t about to stop jusst because we came to visit. I might add in here that it costs approx. $135 CHF to travel up the mountain, which is equivalent to approx $150 AUD today. Unfortunately, because of this blizzard, all outdoor activities were cancelled and some viewing platforms were closed. Looking out the windows was like looking at a blank sheet of paper, blank and boring. The fog and clouds were so thick that no matter how hard you tried, it wasn’t at all possible to see through them.
There was one section of the complex that allowed you to venture outside and see snow. I know a few people on our tour had never seen snow before so this was an awesome experience or them, but for me? It was cold, wet and blowing a gail, so I didn’t stay out there long. I stayed long enough to look like I was shovelling snow and make a tiny snowball and take a selfie. I didn’t fancy being soaked to the bone and making my cold worse.
The only thing that was remotely good about the experince was the ice palace which had heaps of ice sculptures carved out and placed in what seemed like a huge igloo. Swissman (aka Jayden) and I went exploring and shuffled our way through the tunnels. Obviously it was cold, but the ice sculptures were pretty amazing and had so much detail.
All in all, our experience on Jungfrau was not a great one and it definitely wasn’t worth the $135 CHF I paid, basically to just visit a gift shop. If someone could guarantee me that the weather would be clear and sunny, I may consider another visit, but other than that, it’s just a tick off the list of things to do; been there, done that.
Coming back into town, I had remembered I needed to relook at the Haggis tour. There were still vacancies so I decided to book even thought I hadn’t yet heard back from my parents. I had a feeling they would much rather me travel with another tour group than travel on my own. Done and paid, I made my way back to camp to do some washing. It was a rare thing for you to have good washing facilites so you had to take advantage of them when available. While waiting for my clothes, I ventured into the Bomb Shelter and the bar tender poured me a drink. A few others came in and we chilled while the bar tender was handing out tiny bottles of Red Bull Liqueur. I still have mine, unbroken and sealed. I don’t like the taste of Red Bull so I decided to keep it was a momento.
By that time it was ready to head up for dinner and for me to clear away dishes again. The other dishies were just as helpful as the night before but I didn’t complain. It wasn’t going to do anyone any good.
That night was a red and white party in the bomb shelter. I wasn’t really interested in partying it up as I still had a bit of a head cold and the freezing weather hadn’t helped my system. I crashed early that night, knowing that we had an interesting day tomorrow.
Germany was back and that meant more beer. 😉
*To Be Continued*
P.s. Here are some photos of the town as we walked back to camp from the cog rail.