This Contiki fiasco is finally coming to an end, and the camaraderie is in full swing as people take group photos, exchange emails, and make plans to visit each other in the future. Some of us are already nostalgic for these days of cheap Italian wine, crowded Parisian cafes, and too little sleep. I certainly won’t miss the bus rides, but I will miss the people.
We are currently in Paris, headed back to London tomorrow morning. I can honestly say that I’m glad that this part of the trip is almost over. Before I even came on this trip, I knew that Contiki wasn’t really my kind of travel – I’m more of a solo artist, and I certainly don’t like plans.
Still, somehow the hectic get-up-and-go, the too-long bus rides, the too-little sleep, and the drunken chaotic mess that is Contiki crawls under your skin and wraps itself around your heart like some kind of parasite. It gets in your head and pushes aside thoughts of “back home” and “old friends” to make room for new places and new people. Somehow, Contiki becomes your life, and as much as you want to hate the 6:00AM wakeup calls and the crappy continental breakfasts and the smelly, uncomfortable bus rides, at least you’ve got your new friends to suffer with.
I got to meet and hang out with some really cool people, and I got to gain new perspectives on old destinations. Somewhere along the road, you stop fighting the tour and just let it all happen. Those people on the bus with you, strangers just days ago, are suddenly your family. Those old tourist-trap cities are suddenly exciting and lively. It’s a whole different kind of travel.
That’s all for today. I’ve got to get some work done before night falls, as it is our last night here and I’m sure I have quite a bit of drinking ahead of me.