As you know I have recently returned from a 5 week trip around Europe. This was my first trip away from Australia. I posted some photos on Facebook while I was away and a quick blurb about what we were up to at each new location, but I didn’t end up having the time/internet to upload blogs whilst away. I would have liked to have been able to put more time into it whilst there but now I guess I get to re-live it by creating this series.
I want to post each week about each country/place we visited, my obvious thoughts about the world and what it was like to do a Contiki trip for those of you considering it!
Before I start going into detail about the trip, I want to talk about the flight over to Europe. Oh my goodness, I couldn’t believe how long it took to get there, I mean you hear 23 hours and think ‘oh that’s not that long, it’s only a day’, but maybe this is just because I am not a fan of flying but wow, 23 hours is such a long time to sit on a plane, especially if you can’t sleep. What makes that even more annoying is when the person you’re traveling with, sleeps the entire flight! As soon as we landed in Heathrow I swore I never wanted to do that again (knowing dam well I had to in 5 weeks’ time if I ever wanted to come home) but I wiped that from my memory for then and it is so worth it as for the first time in my life I was in another country 🙂
The first day we went to a place called Weston-super-Mare which is a town in Somerset, England, on the Bristol Channel 18 miles south west of Bristol. I would like to think of as a being a typical English seaside resort, inclusive of the obligatory English Pier. We walked in the ‘sun’, keeping in mind that I was still freezing, but we were very blessed with such sunny weather for England at this time of year (well any time of year that is, for England). We went and played on the arcade/show machines and some of us ate greasy deep-fried fish and chips. Well I didn’t eat fish and chips that day as being early into the trip I had every intention of keeping healthy throughout so I bought a salad from Waitrose, but I can safely say that little epiphany went down the drain after day 1! I am only here once (this time anyway!)
After the pier, we visited Cabot Tower lookout which is set in parklands of Brandon Hill in Bristol. The Tower is 32 metres high and was built in 1897 to commemorate John Cabot’s famous voyage 400 years ago from Bristol to what is now known as Canada. We climbed up to the top and it was a beautiful view. I also saw my first squirrel, albeit a grey one and not a red native squirrel, but still very cute and we fed them! (Well Brandon did, I’m not a huge wild animal fan – scenario “squirrel bites Kate and she dies of rabies whilst on her 2nd day of holidays”). I also loved all the wild flowers growing around the parks and lovely little daisy’s in the grass.
That night we went to a place called ‘Cosmos’, it was like a huge sizzler, and they had chocolate fountains! No didn’t stick my face in it but tempting. So so good. We didn’t stay out late as although jetlag didn’t hit me as badly on the way over as it did coming home, I still couldn’t keep my eyes open towards the end of each day for the first few days.
Shopping day! My boyfriend’s aunty took us shopping, and we went to Cabot Circus which contains shops, offices, a cinema, hotel and 250 apartments. I could have spent a few days just in this shopping centre part. So many different shops that we don’t have in Australia. I bought a few bits of clothes, although I couldn’t go crazy as I didn’t want to spend all my money in the first few days! Near Cabot Circus is a little market area called ‘St Nicols Markets’ it was very cool, you could buy lots of vintage bits of clothing and lots of yummy cakes! We also made a visit to ‘the Mall’ and I had my first John Lewis experience (like Myers but bigger!).
I forgot to mention that it was my boyfriend’s 20th birthday the day we arrived and we didn’t celebrate too much, as the only thing we wanted to do was sleep after we landed! So that night his lovely Nan and Gramp threw him a birthday party at one of the local pubs in Winterbourne. It was so nice, he got to see a lot of his family that he hasn’t seen in years plus I got to experience my first English Pub and extended family networks. Yes, I do have some family, but they are spread far and wide over Australia in little groups, and we only get to see them in singular lots at a time. It was amazing how everyone in England seems to live so close to ALL their relatives!
That morning we got picked up by Brandon’s Aunty, Uncle and two adorable little cousins. They took us to the Docks area and we went for a walk and ate tea and cake on this little ‘boat cafe’ (first of many cakes I ate whilst in England – gluten free be dammed!) We then went on the ‘SS Great Britain’ which is a museum ship and former passenger steamship.
The ship was launched in 1843 and was the longest passenger ship in the world from 1845 to 1854. In 1852 the ship was purchased to carry emigrants to Australia and an extra upper deck was added to the ship so she could carry up to 700 passengers. It was very cool to see, Brandon and his uncle climbed the rigging. Looked like fun but was a bit high for me (plus I was wearing a dress). That afternoon we went to Clifton, it is considered the ‘posh’ side of Bristol. It was beautiful and the streets looked a bit like Notting Hill/Kensington areas of London. There was an ice-cream van and we had ice-cream in the park, even though I had gloves on and it was still cold but is it ever too cold for ice cream? We made our way up to the Clifton Observatory located on Clifton Down which was a former mill built in 1766, now used as an observatory, which also took you down through a cave in the hill to a lookout on the side of a mountain and which had the most amazing view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge which spans the Avon Gorge and the River Avon and was built in 1864. Was a really great day! 🙂
Can I just add to that I really looked my best in the first few days of the holiday, as I made a big effort to curl my hair and do my makeup. You will see as these posts keep going that I look more and more grungy as the trip goes on – too much to see, not enough sleep, early morning getaways and not enough time to care about looks!! Haha.
Thanks for reading my first post of this series 🙂
Some posts will be longer than others, we probably spent the most amount of time in the U.K so these will be bigger than when we started traveling across Europe.
Please feel free to leave your feedback!
Love Kate xxx